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Economist forecasts 4% area growth rate in '06

Published January 12, 2006

Veteran Florida economy watcher Mark Vitner is pretty darn bullish on a certain $110-billion regional economy. Tampa Bay's economy, to be specific.

The Wachovia senior economist spelled out his upbeat forecast, including a 4 percent growth rate in 2006 for this area, at a Wednesday morning briefing for several hundred regional business executives. Some highlights:

The stock market, powered by the Dow recently hitting 11,000, is more fairly valued and in better shape than it was in 1999.

The economy has enjoyed 10 straight quarters of growth at 3.5 percent or better.

The housing market will cool as rising short-term interest rates make it harder for speculators to buy and flip homes.

The Tampa Bay area added 60,000 residents last year, and between 65,000 and 70,000 are projected to arrive in 2006.

The biggest challenge, Vitner suggested, may be an unemployment rate so low that businesses trying to expand will find more job candidates failing to pass drug or literacy tests.

[Last modified January 12, 2006, 01:21:24]

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